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HomeWorldJoe Biden doesn't have a strong political hand to play on Russia

Joe Biden doesn’t have a strong political hand to play on Russia

President Joe Biden is set to address the nation Thursday afternoon in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He will do so from a decidedly weak political position, according to recent poll numbers.

Just 36% of Americans approved of how Biden has handled the situation with Russia, while 55% disapproved, Gallup’s latest survey showed. The poll was conducted from Feb. 1-17, as tensions between Russia and Ukraine were rising, but before Russia invaded. Those numbers are largely unchanged since an August 2021 Gallup poll, which showed Biden’s Russian approval at 39%.



A meager 11% of Republicans approved of how Biden has dealt with Russia, while just 35% of independents approved, according to Gallup’s newest poll. Even Democrats were skeptical of his approach, with 64% approving Biden’s handling of Russia.

Those numbers are roughly in line with where Biden finds himself in other national polls. A new AP-NORC poll found that 44% of Americans approved of how Biden is handling the US relationship with Russia, while 55% disapproved. That survey was conducted Feb. 18-21.

It’s worth noting here that Americans’ views on Biden’s handling of Russia are not terribly dissimilar from their overall opinions of how he has done as president. Just 41% approved of how Biden is doing his job overall in the Gallup poll, and it’s very likely that such low approval numbers bleed into all aspects of his presidency.

That’s especially true when you consider that the average American — until a few weeks ago — was likely not paying close (or any) attention to Russia. So when they are asked about Biden’s handling of relations with the country, they likely fell back on their overall impression of the President.

Regardless of the reasons, Biden finds himself in a fraught political position at home as Russian President Vladimir Putin pushes forces into Ukraine. On the foreign policy front, Biden is still reeling from the disastrous pullout of American troops from Afghanistan last summer.

And there is very little appetite among Americans for the US to be deeply involved in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. A CBS News poll conducted earlier this month showed that 53% of Americans thought the US should “stay out of any negotiations around the situation with Russia and Ukraine” while 43% wanted the US to side with Ukraine.

Biden is, of course, aware of his decidedly precarious political position at home. But the lack of support for him — and his handling of Russia — require a distinctly delicate dance from Biden. He needs to be forceful in protecting America’s interests — as a destabilized Europe and a Russia on the march is not in those interests — while being cognizant that he isn’t in a strong place domestically at the moment.

These are the moments that can make or break presidencies. All eyes will be on Biden — and how he navigates this incredibly complex situation both at home and abroad — in the coming days.

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